If you have a business, you should have a website.
What I am trying to say here is that in modern times you should, at the very least, have a presence online so that people?whether they are customers, potential employees, business partners or even investors?can find you. This is important because you want them to quickly and easily find out about your business and the products or services you must offer.
However, it is not enough that you just have a website. To really reap the benefits, you must have a professional, attractive, user-friendly site. Across the UK and the world, the majority of consumers search for information online before making a purchase. Your website is very often your first impression to a potential buyer. If your site looks like it was designed by your 12-year-old niece, your chance of making a good first impression will be lost.
Your site speaks volumes about your business. It either says, ?We take our business seriously and take care of our brand and customers? or ?We look for quick, easy, cheap solutions. My 12-year-old niece designed my site. Good luck finding anything!?
71% of companies planned to increase their digital marketing budgets this year by an average of 27%. (Econsultancy)
In the UK there are 57.3 million active internet users.
Nearly half (46%) of people say a website?s design is their number-one criterion for determining the credibility of a company. (NewsCred)
The UK has the highest percentage (69%) of people who purchased something online in the whole world (January 2015)
90% of millennials use their smartphones to research products or services while shopping, and 41% have made purchases using their phones. (Leaderwest Digital Marketing Journal)
If this does not convince you to take your business online, then this should?
?1. YOUR BUSINESS WILL GAIN CREDIBILITY
As time goes on, more and more consumers are using the internet to search for the products and services they need.
Regardless of the size of your business, your prospective customers will expect to find you online. Having a website helps you establish credibility and legitimacy as a business. Without one, don’t be surprised to see customers go to your competitors.
There are still plenty of small businesses that don’t have a website; without one, ?small? is exactly what they will stay. Without a website to which you can refer people, potential clients will assume that you are a small-scale company that does not take its business seriously.
If you already have a website but it is not achieving your desired results, or if it is outdated or ?homemade,? having it professionally redesigned will supply your business with a brand and image which will inspire greater confidence.
For entrepreneurs working from home, this is especially useful since they do not have a physical location to promote what they can do.
2. A WEBSITE SAVES YOU MONEY
Perhaps as a small business owner you have thought that you can’t afford a professional website, but in reality you can’t afford NOT to.
The cost of designing and developing a website can vary. However, once it’s up and running, a website for a small business generally costs under ?50 a month and, in some cases, as little as ?10.
Compared to the cost of advertising in a newspaper or in the Yellow Pages, a website is cost effective, but then to add to that the potential market that a website can reach?it?s a smart way to promote and grow your business.
Websites have progressed and now allow you to take online most parts of your business, such as supply management, billing, shipping, procurement and much more. Streamlining business processes online can give you the opportunity to significantly cut costs and time.
One example is that when you sell through your website, you don’t must maintain stock/inventory. You have an online inventory, so customers can search the website and browse the products that can be delivered. When they have made an order, you then arrange for the product to get shipped from its original supplier.
Now that most of the processing occurs online, you don’t need as many staff members to handle orders.
All of these factors can save you lots of time and money.
3.?A WEBSITE KEEPS YOUR CUSTOMERS INFORMED & EDUCATED
You should consider your website to be your business? online brochure or catalogue.
It?s much faster and easier to update information about your products and services online than it is in print material, thereby making it a more effective method of letting your customers know about news such as:
- Arrival of new products
- Any new services you offer
While printed adverts can quickly become outdated, your website will provide current news and information.
In some cases, your prospective customers simply must be educated about your product/service so that they appreciate and want to purchase what you are offering. By continually sharing helpful and interesting content on your website (and through your blogs), you increase awareness of your product or service and convert casual visitors into paying customers and clients.
Sometimes if demand doesn’t exist, it can be created by making people aware of the need.
When potential customers call or email to discuss your service, half your job is done. You are already saving time (and money), as the people who call you are interested prospects and are not just after some information.
4. A WEBSITE IS ALWAYS ACCESSIBLE (it?s Your Best Employee)
Let?s consider this for a second.
In April 2016, the national living wage will be ?7.20 an hour for workers aged 25 and older.
Your website will be working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Therefore 8,760 hours each year. If you paid an employee to work these hours at minimum wage (?7.20ph), it would cost you over ?63,000 each year!
Not just that, but your website won?t have sick days, turn up late or have a bad attitude.
A website is available to both your regular and potential customers regardless of how large or small the demand is, allowing them to review your products and services while you are eating, sleeping or even on holiday.
Just consider the possibility of getting leads, making money and growing your business while you sleep.
5. YOU CAN TARGET A WIDER MARKET
Regardless of whether your business provides a service or a product, your website will provide a second location from which to sell. When selling a product, an (eCommerce) website is the perfect opportunity to sell to a much broader market; even services can be made available globally.
People may not travel 40 miles to see if they like your product, but I?m sure they would spend 30 seconds online looking at an image or video of it and reading some information.
One example that comes to mind is the case of my friend Ryan Little at A40EC who paints shoes by hand so that the customer has the opportunity to own something no on else in the world will have.
His website has allowed them to become more recognisable, trustworthy and established. However of most relevance to this section is how his website allowed him to take payments from overseas securely, generating orders from across Europe such as Paris.
From creating his website in?6 months, he has seen 60% of his overall orders now come from his website as apposed to other platforms.
Offline options such as flyers for short-term promotions are usually expensive to produce. Also, they take longer to prepare and must be produced in large volumes, which contributes to higher marketing costs. Advertisements published online can be changed frequently and at a relatively low cost as compared to other media.
6. YOU CAN SHOWCASE YOUR WORK
For any business, a website is a great place to showcase what it has done and can do for people.
There are plenty of ways to do this, such as?
A portfolio page
An image gallery
Customer reviews are an especially effective way to add that crucial personal touch. This is intensified if you can get a video of your customer reviews or, at the very least, photos alongside them. This raises the trust level much higher and makes you even more credible.